Tonight’s DWTS elimination confirms what we’ve always known to be true: The show is a popularity contest.
Of course, this isn’t news to anyone, but it would certainly be nice if we didn’t have a reminder of this sorry situation every single season.
This season’s reminder came in the form of Willow Shields’ shocking elimination in the most recent episode, and fans are, rightfully, outraged. Here is a small selection of the vast number of things fans had to say about it on Twitter.
And these are just the tame ones. The majority of tweets were heavy on the profanity, and there were many threats to boycott the show. People also had a lot of theories about vote rigging and incentives for ABC to keep its own stars on the show longer than other contestants.
While we don’t have much concrete evidence to support those theories, we can’t say we blame fans for their outrage. It has been apparent for quite some time that Dancing With the Stars is less about one’s abilities on the dance floor and far more about the size of one’s fan base. Is it time the show started looking at how to combat this discrepancy? The balance between the judges’ scores and the people voting at home doesn’t seem to be working.
Willow and her pro partner, Mark Ballas, were one of the competition’s frontrunners. Each week, we’ve seen them put together routines that were creative and full of energy. There’s no doubt about it: Willow was good when it came to the thing the dancers are meant to be judged on — you know, dancing ability. There’s a reason her elimination was so shocking and has elicited such an angry response — it’s because she deserves to still be there. So how is it that contestants of lesser ability — cough, Chris Soules, cough, Robert Herjavec — were safe while the 14-year-old was sent packing?
Given these types of shocking eliminations happen every season, the message that viewers and the talented-yet-eliminated contestants seem to be getting is that all’s fair in love and DWTS elimination practices. Here’s the thing, though: It’s not actually fair. And despite the boycott threats, people will continue to watch the show even though it’s not actually about the dancing, and people will continue to vote for those who look good without a shirt on or who are subject to romance rumors or who they know more about because that’s how the popularity cookie crumbles.
But what if ABC did something radical and actually made this a dancing competition? Just because we all know DWTS is nothing more than a popularity contest doesn’t mean it has to stay that way forever (and we all know this show could go on forever). So why not shake things up a bit and put the emphasis back on the dancing, if for no other reason than it might be nice not to watch eliminated contestants bawl their eyes out because they were hard done by. That’s never any fun to watch.